US organizations lead delegation with elected officials to document the causes of the Central American exodus

PRESS STATEMENT

For Immediate Release

US organizations lead delegation with elected officials to document the causes of the Central American exodus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Yari Aquino: alianza@berlinrosen.com

The delegation will use its findings to propose changes to US policy in order to counter the crisis that expels thousands of people in the region.

Chicago, 9 August, 2019 –  A delegation of US elected officials, immigrant rights advocates and legal experts will be traveling to Honduras and El Salvador from August 11 to 16.  The delegation will document the political, economic and social realities that spur the exodus of thousands of people in search of protection in the United States.  The information collected will be used to propose humane solutions and changes to immigration policies in the United States, as well as articulating proposals for addressing the drivers of displacement.  

The group will be led by Alianza Americas, Centro Presente and Lawyers for Civil Rights, and will also include Andrés X. Vargas and Nika C. Elugardo, elected officials from Massachusetts who represent districts with large populations of immigrants from Central America.

“Local leaders must witness first-hand the situations that cause people to seek refuge in our state, so we can strongly defend immigrant families in our districts and beyond,” says Representative Elugardo.

“Central America, while also equally important to come to terms with America’s past and present role in it. I’m looking forward to developing a deeper awareness of the public health and safety conditions that force people to attempt to find refuge in the American dream,” says Representative Vargas.

Other delegation participants include Patricia Montes, executive director of Centro Presente, a member organization of Alianza Americas, and Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights. Both organizations, based in Boston, MA, have played an active role in defending immigrant families from the Central American exodus and are leading legal actions against the onslaught of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies.

“Immigrant rights defenders who have not traveled to the region only understand a small fraction of the complex dynamics driving displacement. The region has an alarming number of internally displaced people due to violence.  You cannot fully understand the human cost of forced migration until you see and experience the conditions that have forced people to flee,” says Espinoza-Madrigal.

“Currently, El Salvador and Honduras are experiencing widespread violence, which is facilitated by impunity due to a historically weak criminal justice system and unbridled corruption that engulfs law enforcement, state agencies, and the judicial system. This violence and instability has direct roots in the long history of United States policies being imposed on our countries of origin, policies that only benefit corporate interests and corrupt elites,” says Montes. 

Oscar Chacón, executive director of Alianza Americas, added:

“As Latin American immigrant leaders in the United States, we seek to influence decision makers in this country to fight for humane migration policies. It is crucial that elected officials know what is happening in Central America and understand the true humanitarian crisis happening in the countries where people are fleeing. This understanding is vital to advocate for changes in US humanitarian protections and reshaping our foreign policy so that these countries become places from which fewer people are forced to flee.”

The agenda

On Sunday, August 11, the delegation will arrive in San Pedro Sula, the Honduran city where the first “caravan” of asylum seekers departed for the United States in October 2018.  The tour will continue through the Valley of Aguán on the north coast of Honduras with a meeting with representatives of the Environmental Committee of Guapinol and representatives of civil society organizations from the municipality of Tocoa. At the end of 2018, environmental leaders and defenders of these territories were criminalized by the Honduran government when they opposed the construction of a mining project. Delegates will also meet with representatives of the Garifuna community, an Afro-descendant population whose land has been expropriated by the government and turned over to investors to cultivate African palm.  The tour includes a visit to El Progreso, where delegates will participate in a conversation with human rights leaders and victims of state repression.

On Thursday, August 11, the delegation will begin its tour of San Salvador with meetings with representatives of civil society organizations working on the socio-economic causes of forced migration from El Salvador. The tour includes visits to the Institute of Human Rights of the Central American University (IDHUCA) and CRISTOSAL, institutions that monitor and assist victims of  human rights violations by the state and forced displacement by violence. The El Salvador visit also includes a discussion on the most recent anti-immigrant measures taken by the Trump administration and their impacts on El Salvador.

Press requests

In Honduras: On Tuesday the 13th, delegates will offer a press conference at Hotel San Patricio, in Tocoa, Colón.

In El Salvador: delegates will be available for press requests before the scheduled conversation on Thursday, August 15. Location: Sheraton Presidente Hotel, conference room Presidente 2.

If you are interested in participating in the events, or obtaining statements from the members of the delegation and other audio-visual resources, contact Yari Aquino: alianza@berlinrosen.com.

Founded in 1981, Centro Presente is a Latin American immigrant organization run by its members and dedicated to the self-determination and self-reliance of the Latin American immigrant community in Massachusetts. Operated and directed mainly by Central American immigrants, Centro Presente fights for immigrant rights and economic and social justice. Through the integration of community organizing, leadership development and basic services, Centro Presente strives to give members a voice and develop community power. 

Lawyers for Civil Rights promotes equal opportunities and combats discrimination against ethnic minorities and immigrants. They engage in creative and courageous legal actions, as well as educational and advocacy work, in collaboration with law firms and community partners. Together with their community allies, they filed the first lawsuits in the country against the Trump administration to protect sanctuary cities; to save TPS on behalf of Honduran, Salvadoran and Haitian immigrants; and to block immigration arrests in court. 

Alianza Americas is a network of 50 immigrant-led organizations representing more than 150,000 families across the United States. It is the only national network in the United States of Latin American and Caribbean organizations working from a transnational perspective for inclusive, equitable and sustainable living conditions. You can learn more about us at our website: www.alianzaamericas.org

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